3Introduction If cinema has a social function, it’s really to make people confront other systems of thought, or other systems of living than the ones they habitually know.
– Jacques RivetteI would like to begin with an Introduction about European Cinema and various aspects that lie under this huge Industry. European Cinema is the identity of Europe itself, which includes diverse and divergent cultures. We mainly cover the two basic questions about how the world sees European Cinema and how the European Union sees European Cinema “European culture is ‘a patchwork, a juxtaposition of various conceptions and practices of entertainment, a collection of individual ways of singing, dancing, telling stories, practicing sport and having some rest’, while, on the other ‘economically and politically, Europe is already a reality” 1. Defining European Cinema is too vast a topic, as Cinema in itself cannot be narrowed down to a single definition. With leading and upcoming Cinemas all around the world it is only when European Cinema is constantly compared with Hollywood that we can see a striking distinction between the two. That is when we understand the definition of European Films in a true sense. “As the ‘good’ other, it is a self-ascription, where European directors and national cinemas are lined up in binary pairs, such as ‘art versus commerce’, ‘auteur versus star’, ‘critical prestige versus box office’, ‘realism versus dream factory’ or – more recently – ‘the movement image versus the time image’ (Deleuze 1986; 1989)”2. One unique distinction of European cinema is the concept of Auteur that has really defined European Cinema, it is through this that we saw a huge change and the beginning of the New Waves emerging.
The concept of Auteur is where the director is in charge. It is more like a one-man army as the Director takes charge of writing the story, direction, screenplay and all the aspects that go into film-making. We see the director’s vision in the film.
These were small budget films but were critically acclaimed films that are spoken about even today. Some e.g. of these are Breathless by Jean Luc Gordad and 400 Blows by Francois Truffaut, we also have the Italian neorealism where films were made on subjects more in connection with the working class such as poverty, exploitation many of the films today are influenced a lot by Italian Neorealism, in the early 19th century we had The German Expressionism that lead to a series of creative movements before the first world war some of the well-known films are:- The Student of Prague (1913), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), From Morn to Midnight (1920), The Golem: How He Came into the World(1920), Destiny (1922), Nosferatu (1922), Phantom (1922), Schatten (1923), and The Last Laugh (1924) were highly symbolic and stylized. European Cinema is majorly looked as Art Cinema or literary Cinema films that are intense and subjected to various interpretations. It has mostly been a struggle to find the right audience for such fine produced films.1 European identity in Cinema, Introduction: European Film and the Quest for Identity,2 The Europeanness of European Cinema, Identity, Meaning, Globalization, edited by Mary Harrod, et al.
, I.B.Tauris, 20144Geographical Focus Most of the films are “Postcolonial Cinema” speaking about Europe’s rich history taking influence from sociopolitical issues and mainly cultural heritage. Majority of genres that distinguish contemporary cinema including comedy, romance, costume dramas, thrillers, and science fiction, for example were seen first in Europe in the early twentieth century as well as today’s camera techniques and special effects can be found under the work of renowned Directors such as Georges Méliès ” Consequently, both the narration and aesthetics of the so-called ‘postcolonial cinema’ deal with the waves of migrants from Latin America, Africa and Asia moving into the European Union, with inclusion, exclusion and pluri-ethnicity as well as with modalities of representation and politics of encounter. Therefore, the contributions reflect three main key aspects – Europe, postcolonialism and cinema – which are not separated terms but intertwined and connected with one another in multiple ways, inflecting and generating a plurality of nuances” 3 Postcolonial cinema also brings into light the geographical aspect of cinema specially issues such as, migration, identity and spatiality. The inputs of geographical focus help in understanding how these films work and also how they are built socially and ideologically in portraying different geographical related aspects of film-making specially in relation to Europe as it has not only brought out the Art in cinema, but also adapted various other cultures and incorporated in their cinema. This also shows European Cinema in a new subjective perspective and all the methodologies that go into bringing the uniqueness or distinguish Europe from the rest as an aesthetic and political medium in a globalized world.
Influence of Hollywood and Measures used to fund There has always been a constant debate over the fact of not being able to find the “Europeanness” in European cinema due the dominance or influence of Hollywood, as spoken earlier Europe has always found it mostly difficult to find the right kind of audience for its cinema and in addition to it most of the films are small budget films with very few renowned actors as a result only a few of the films are funded or supported by the government and the rest are funded privately which makes it difficult to bring such kind of cinema to the notice of the audience and today most of the directors are under constant pressure to produce commercially successful films or films that appeal to todays masses such as linear narratives leading to a closed conclusion, fast cutting and action, a highly developed star system, ambitious and sophisticated special effects. If they followed this method of film-making it would always lead to the question of identity as what would define European Cinema if they followed the Hollywood way of film-making? Attempting to follow the lines of Hollywood would not be a solution to bring Europe into the market as then there would be nothing to differentiate between the two worlds of Cinema specially given the cultural and linguistic difference between the two. But there is also the question of how to gather the audience of European cinema and industry that produces, Art, complex and challenging films. If Europe drifts towards producing high-budget, commercially successful films it would lose its sense of identity as European Cinema as culture is what brings out Europe to the rest of the world.
The evaluation for the3 Transnational Cinemas, Introduction: genres and tropes in postcolonial cinema(s) in Europe5success of a film should not be based on much it earns, rather the content the response from its audience is what should be evaluated. In my opinion in order to showcase the European Art to the world it would be successful only when the government also takes an initiative in supporting the field of Arts and Cinema by supporting them financially as there is much more than what we just see in Hollywood. There are also problems that usually arise because of the language with English being predominantly spoken globally and whether the world today is ready to accept cinema and storylines that are produced in regional languages or is it more convenient to watch something in a language that is spoken widely. These underlying concerns must be recognized and discussed but in spite of these problems are wide array of challenging films are still being produced throughout Europe. In order to promote and recognize European Cinema they have come up with the MEDIA (Mesures pour Encourager le Developpement de l’industrie Audiovisuelle) programme, MEDIA is an initiative to help develop closer co-operation amongst the European countries. Due to this initiative the number of films distributed outside of Europe has increased and many of the established and new directors have got financial support (to name a few Terence Davies, Fridrik Thór Fridriksson, Damien Old, Istvan Szabo, and Lars Von Trier).
“Amongst recent European initiatives, Eurimages, the Council of Europe’s fund for co-production (set up in 1988), has been almost unique in prioritising film as expression of cultural identity (Jäckel 2003: 76). Between 1989 and the early 1990s Eurimages supported a large number of films whose cultural importance has been widely recognised, including for example – Reise der Hoffnung (Journey of Hope, Xavier Koller, 1990, Switzerland/ UK), Toto le héros (Toto the Hero, Jaco van Dor- mael, 1991, France/ Belgium/ Germany), and Trois couleurs: bleu (Three Colours: Blue, Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1993, France/ Poland/ Switzerland). By 1996, Eurimages’s involvement in European film co-productions reached 46 per cent, and the centrality of its role, particularly for countries with low production capacity, is now widely acknowledged (Bizern and Autissier 1998: 70)” 4Regional Identity In Europe, France, Germany, Spain and Italy have been dominating the film Industry or rather the works of these countries is what the audience has usually seen and heard of but countries like Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Switzerland, Iceland and the Scandinavian countries have been overshadowed by their neighbors. These are the countries where internal linguistic differences affect their market distribution in Europe as well as in other countries, there are only a few exceptions such as (Delvaux and Straub in Belgium, Goretta in Switzerland) that are known or heard of in Europe but are famous only in their countries. Thus, the threat of Hollywood overpowering these countries is high. However, these are the countries that always provide optimal locations to direct films with their suitable climate and scenic backgrounds which are preferred over other locations. Austria has been experiencing some changes in their cinema. The year 1999 being one of the most important years in Austrian Cinema.
Due to political issues and elections there were strong oppositions against the new Government and while on the other hand they also did not want their country to be not recognized internationally in relation to culture and prevent films produced in Austria from being featured abroad. Situation changed due to the Vienna Film4 European identity in Cinema, Introduction: European Film and the Quest for Identity,6Fund as it helps strengthen develop several of the Film projects and helped in founding of a new production company called Coup 99 by Barbara Albert, Jessica Hausner, and Antonin Svoboda along with photographer Martin Gschlacht. In the year 1999 there were 222 film screenings of Austrian Films in International Film Festivals and never had Austria received such huge recognition. The Portuguese Film industry too has experienced a positive change due to the Portuguese Institute of Cinematographic and Audiovisual Art (IPACA) by strongly supporting its films in Portugal as well as abroad. As Portugal was named the Cultural capital of Europe in 1994 as a result the IPACA financially supported four of six films that year, three of which were selected for Cannes Film Festival. The French journal Cahiers du Cinema dedicated an entire section to the Portuguese Film Industry. One of the leading broadcasters in Portugal the SIC had launched an initiative for the production of ten ‘Telefilms’ which was a very ambitious project and the French ARTE project mentioned that due to this initiative it doubled the numbers of feature films produced in Portugal and paved the way for many new and upcoming talent in the field of Films. This project brought about a radical change in Portugal.
The Scandinavian countries are still new in the European Film Industry in comparison to their counterparts. The number of films produced inland and off-shore as seemingly less compared to the other countries. Sweden has had the history of having the most problems in this field as their markets are dominated mainly by American Films and the audience in general hasn’t shown a keen interest in promoting regional cinema.
Sweden has had some success in Cinema with support from the Nordic Film and Television Fund by increasing 50% of the Nordic Film Productions in Sweden. Some of the notable Swedish Films are Lasse Hallström’s popular Semi-Autobiography Mit Liv Som Hund (my Life as a Dog, 1987), Kadisbellan (the Sling Shot, 1994), Daniel Bergman’s Söndagsbarn ( Sunday’s Children, 1993) and the most famous films was a comedy film by Lasse Aberg Hälsoresan (The Health Farm, 1999) which garnered around one million spectators in Sweden and was a great commercial success in Sweden unfortunately the movie didn’t travel far internationally other than Norway where again it was a success. The year 1999 was a successful year for Sweden in relation to Cinema as they captured 21.
5% of the market and two of the most successful films that year were Tomtenär far till alla Barnen (In bed With Santa, Kjell Sundwall,1999) and Vägen ut (breaking out, Daniel Lind Lagerlof). In the year 2000 two Swedish Films were nominated at the Cannes International Film Festival liv Ullmann’s drama about adultery, Trölosa (Faithlesss) and an Autobiographical script of Ingmar Bergman directed by Roy Andersson Sånger fran andra våningen (Songs from the Second Floor). Due the basic problem of American Cinema dominance the rest of Scandinavia Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland have yet not been as successful as Sweden. Given that Language and Finance was the major problems that these countries face it led to many co-operations so that their Films could be funded and due to these International Co-operations one the keys problems were that most of the films were required to be produced in English and the point of promoting Regional Cinema internationally is to be able to Produce it in the regional language as it is the main aspect that distinguishes regional cinema from Hollywood.
Which is still a topic of debate today. Two famous Finnish Directors who are brothers Aki and Mika Kaurismäki have made over twenty feature films that were low budget and nihilistic humor and self-conscious filmic references that garnered a lot of attention from the audience to Finnish Cinema. One of their most appreciated comedy more of a travelling comedy film based on the sixties style Finnish pop group on tour to America that turned into a disaster was Leningrad Cowboys go America (1989). In terms7of their films that were commercially successful were films based on World War and some of the movies were Rukajärven tie (The Ambush, Olli Saarela) where the audience was mainly the older generation as they were able to relive the times during the war. Taru Mäkelä’s Pikku- sisar (Little Sister) and Lauri Törhönen’s Hylätyt talot autiot pihat (Abandoned Houses) are films that show from a woman’s perspective during the time of War and how they deal with the situation at home. Such films are slowly bringing the attention of the audience to the Finnish Film Industry. The Danish Film Industry was successful due to the creation of the Danish Film Institute in 1972 with support from the state and strong Nordic and European Co-operation that led to a breakthrough for Danish Cinema in the 90s. The Danish Cinema is another example of European Cinema being in the spotlight due to strong State support after France.
The Danish Film Institute still continues to promote low budget films that encourage, support and promote new-comers. Some of the renowned Danish Directors are Lars von Trier, Billie August, Thomas Winterberg, Per Fly and Ake Sandgren. “The film Collective, Dogme 95, is known across the world, and Kris- tian Levring’s The King is Alive, officially the fourth Dogme film, premièred at Cannes in 2000, as did Per Fly’s Baenken (The Bench) and Stefan Fjeldmark’s Hjaelp! Jeger en fisc (Help! I’m a Fish). Moreover, von Trier was awarded the Palme d’Or for Dancer in the Dark. As further indication of the international success of Danish films, Idioterne (The Idiots, Lars von Trier), was sold to 57 different countries, Soren-Kragh-Jackobsen’s Mifunes Sidste to 46 and Thomas Winterberg’s Festen (The Celebration) to 40.
” 5 Another example set where they achieved success internationally without being influenced or threatened by the dominance of Hollywood. The initial Icelandic films or the first Icelandic Film Land Og Synir (Land and Sons) in the year 1979 received positive reviews. Although Iceland produces less films every year but most of the films that they produce have been critically acclaimed and internationally appreciated. The then President of Iceland Vigdis Finnbogadóttir was quoted saying “in a world where film has become a truly international language, no society can consider itself properly articulate until it can express itself through this most contemporary of media”. Even though in the 90s Iceland faced certain problems regarding the funds but due to the Icelandic Film including Experimenting with Digital technology in films they were back in the market.
Some of the notable films produced are Hrafn Gunnlaugsson’s Myrkrahofdinginn (Witchcraft), Gudny Halldórsdóttir’s Ungfrúin góda og húsid (The Honour of the House) and Fridrik Thór Fridriksson’s Englar alheimsins (Angels of the Universe). Many of the young Directors from Iceland are making a major shift in the content they are producing it’s a huge shift from historical content to current social issues. Which is currently a notable change or characterization of the European Cinema. Poland too has a successful graph n the field of Cinema as it has produced high quality films and has transformed its film structure units to Independent Film studios. It established various sources for funding of films both through state and private. Two of the films that gave tough competition to American cinema in the year 2001 were Ogniem i mieczem (With Fire and Sword, Jerzy Hoffmann) and Pan Tedeusz, Andrzej Wajda based on Polish Literary classics.
Together the Scandinavian nations even though with less Financial support have come up strong in the field of Films specially in an English language dominated Cinema world they have stuck to their ideologies and produced some great work with strong State support.5 European identity in Cinema, Introduction: European Film and the Quest for Identity,8Individual Recognition With most of European Cinema being regional cinema with the main aspect being that it is produced in the regional language, it has always been a topic of discussion about a film being authentic when the actors in the film are international actors. With so many International co-operations now-a-days and amalgamation of the entire cast and crew, where lies the identity of the culture of the film or what defines the authenticity of it being regional? Do we categorize it as an International Film just because the characters being played are by international actors or does it still remain a regional film as it is being produced in the regional language and showcases the culture of the specific region? Having an International actor probably helps promote or market a film internationally or gathers a lot of audience. Even today many of the regional actors are not known due to which only a limited set of audience is keen in watching these films “Moreover, vernacular stars ‘lack the dimension of the global reach of Hollywood stars.
Rather, they articulate specific regional concerns within a strictly regional context, but by temporarily inserting themselves into the realm of stardom that is usually reserved for stars with wider reach. further and related aspect of this present form of regional or national European film stardom appears to be that it is particularly marked by what has been referred to as ‘cultural discount. In other words, most of these vernacular stars do not ‘travel’ well, since their appeal is neither pan-European nor global. Rather, their popularity is nearly always limited to a single territory or, in Schneider and Hediger’s formulation, a region” 6. Years later after the second World war many of the actors gained stardom due to the films being made on the recent historical and political events that ha taken place in Europe, some of the noted actors were: Louis de Funès, Alain Delon, Brigitte Bardot, Dirk Bogarde and Romy Schneider to name a few. Reasons for such less popularity of regional Actors is due to the language barrier within the continent also the financial support they get is very less due to which it is difficult to promote regional talent or upcoming talent globally. There is always a question whether to promote regional cinema and regional talent individually for new-comers to get recognition or to promote the cinema of the entire continent as one European cinema?Conclusion As Cinema is too vast a topic to narrow down to one single statement so is European Cinema which is rich with its high culture and diversity making the cinema of Europe an individual identity in itself. European Cinema has evolved from what is used to be from literary stories to current societal issues, from regular cinema to the concept of Auteur the beginning of contemporary cinema and the emergence of the New Waves.
It not only spreads the concept of transnationality across the globe but also within the continent inculcating concepts beyond borders. Even with a downward graph due to the dominance of Hollywood or American Cinema it has still retained its originality managed bring forward Europe without being fully influenced by the west. The distinct difference between European Cinema and American Cinema is still6 The Europeanness of European Cinema, Identity, Meaning, Globalization, edited by Mary Harrod, et al.
, I.B.Tauris, 20149very evident. Though the International Co-operations have been criticized but there was also a positive side to it as it helped small time directors and actors get recognition.
European cinema will always be an ongoing process and there will be no end to discovering the changes that take place in this industry as there is always new developments taking place every day. In conclusion European Cinema will always be a space of complexities and contradictions.